UPDATED: The LA Times Says It All, And In A Few Words: Democrats, Stop Cutting Transit!
God Bless the LA Times. Even in their crippled state, the victim of bad business decisions and a slowing economy, they still manage to publish succinct editorials that say what needs to be said in just a few words. Their recent editorial on the abysmal cuts the Democrats and the Governor are making to mass transit which will result in permanently taking away money voters wanted to go to roads and transit, and instead spend them on whatever. Our friends at the Overhead Wire made some good points on this today, too.
It is especially embarssing when represenatives from the City That Knows How, the City that proudly proclaims its "greener than thou" status, vote for these budgets. I've heard the excuses but in the end, consistently cutting money away from MUNI and BART in good years has done a lot of damage. Now that times are bad, the situation just gets worse.
Today's Chronicle reports on the "higher fares/less service" drainpipe BART is about to spiral down with, but Loyal Readers know this is nothing new to us, as we've been talking about this for a while now.
That said, I think we have an opportunity as citizens and MUNI riders to try and minimize some of the damage. Now, I'm not suggesting we just wait while the Federal Government magically comes in to save us from all our woes (because they can't), but I think it's time we asked our legislators in Sacramento to be a little more creative in finding ways to fund transit with stable revenue sources. If San Francisco's legislators can't show the way to our fellow citizens on basic issues like this, then maybe it's time San Francisco stop telling the rest of the state how to live.
I for one, would like to think that our legislators have some good ideas, and just need some encouragement to try them out. Here's a wild one - if the State is going to take tax money for transit away from transit, can we all get a discount on our state taxes and instead direct the money locally to our own MUNI?
Crazy idea, but I'm waiting to hear of a better one. In the meantime, why not take note of our Legislator's websites and contact them with your concerns about the budget? Let's give them the benefit of the doubt for now that they're willing to consider something besides killing MUNI, BART, and local government, and are willing to go out on a limb with some new ideas. Here's links to their web pages - next time MUNI has a failwhale, give 'em a ring:
UPDATE 1/19Don't hold your breath waiting for Washington DC to help out much. It seems that transit aid in the stimulus package has taken a major cut, in favor of cars and roads. According to the article, both the Speaker and the Senate Majority Leader, as well as the Obama team, had a role in cutting down transit help that would fund the kinds of infrastructure repairs agencies like MUNI struggle with in an age of cutbacks.
Maybe you should send a note to the Speaker and ask her when the last time she rode MUNI was....